By the time I had informed Dana of my intentions to move home and take a job in Bath all the wheels were already in motion. I’d accepted the job offer, handed in my notice at work, wriggled my way out of my tenancy agreement and had all but started packing up my things. My resolve felt pretty strong even if I couldn’t be sure I was doing the right thing, I could always try London again after all, it’s not like I wasn’t still young.
Dana quickly mentioned meeting up for a drink, we’d tried so many times before but this time there was no escape and I thought it would be great to see her before I left. We made arrangements to meet up on a Thursday night in Ealing after work. In the interim Dana and I chatted a little over Facebook and she asked me whether I was sure I was making the right decision.
I opened up to Dana and told her that the break up was really hard on me, harder because I didn’t have anyone here in London and I felt like I needed my family and friends support during this time. She could understand that, though she thought I didn’t give London enough time, I needed to settle in. We discussed my feeble attempts at meeting people and finding something to do with my time, the awful house I was living in at the time didn’t help. I had reclusive housemates and pretty sure it was infested with rats.
The real kicker was how much I was enjoying my job, how much it disappointed my new colleagues when I told them I was leaving. I had only known them for a very short time but they openly said that they would be sad to see me go, just as we were all getting on so well. It was even more surprising to the guys that had moved up there from Somerset before or around the same time I had. Some of them knew what I was going through but I just thought perhaps they never thought it would affect me so much as to quit my job and want to go back home.
When I met up with Dana on the Thursday night I was faced with an intervention. I’m not sure that she even knew what she had done or the impact it would have on my life. Meeting up with Dana that evening literally changed my life in the best way imaginable. I owe a lot to that one night out and the offer she made that evening.
Dana had already told me that London would take time, that I should give it at least six months before jacking in the idea. More importantly, she’d listened to me when I had explained my reasons for wanting to leave. Then she offered me a resolution, she happened to be living in a house that her parents owned and rented out as shared accommodation. There was a spare room, and it could be mine if I wanted it.
Rat infested house would no longer be an issue, being lonely would no longer be an issue as I’d be living with a friend and (according to Dana) two other sociable housemates I was yet to meet. Sure I’d still be away from my family and the friends I had always known, but there was still so much back in Somerset that I didn’t want to go back for, as many reasons as there were to go home there were just as many to support staying away.
Heading home would mean seeing my old gay family often, bumping into either of my exes and the hostility I felt towards Lara at the time wasn’t healthy. In my heart I knew that I’d be going back to a limited and mediocre job that wouldn’t meet my drive or ambition to make something better of myself. The very thing that had prompted me to move to London in the first place.
I didn’t make a decision on the spot, instead we had a couple drinks and talked about life, which mostly meant talking about women and our poor luck with them to date. I told Dana what had happened between myself, Heidi and Daryl as her memories were of the four of us all out drinking and having fun, playing rock, paper, scissors for shots at the bar where she worked. Dana shared with me her impressions of our little group dynamic as an outsider.
From the outside looking in she was able to offer a greatly different perspective on our gay family yet essentially nothing I didn’t suspect myself. Dana said it was a good couple months before she figured out that Lara and I were the couple, initially she had thought it might have been Heidi and I or that none of us were together and that we were all just good friends. Mine and Heidi’s similarities and general zest for life and laughter often made people thing we were closer than we were.
I’m also not surprised it took her a while to figure out that Lara and I were together, that was something that would have to be explained rather than witnessed. I’ve often commented on the lack of affection between us. Even on a night out at a gay bar where we should be able to be open and free to express ourselves as a couple that just didn’t happen.
Dana was not surprised about the end of our relationship, I wasn’t surprised myself anymore. Yet Dana was surprised that Heidi and Daryl seemed to let go of me and the friendship we’d all had so easily. For years we’d holidayed together, celebrated birthdays, Christmas and New Year together and been there for each other through work problems, personal struggles and much more. It was sad that things ended so sourly, and even when I tried to forgive them hurt more when no true effort was really made at that time to make things right.
After our night out I arranged with Dana to come take a look at the room and meet her housemates. I discussed with my parents the possibility of staying in London. The biggest worry was that I’d already handed in my notice at work, if I decided to stay there was every chance that I might end up jobless for a while. Though I was bolstered by my recent interview success back in Bath I was fairly confident that I could find a new job in London if I really needed to.
I made the decision quickly, perhaps even before I’d even seen the room. My parents were incredibly supportive and much happier about me being in London with someone I knew. Sure I didn’t know Dana particularly well at the time, really we were just acquaintances that had met in a bar a few times but already she’d showed more compassion and reached out to me when some people I had considered my closest friends hadn’t.
The room was tiny but I didn’t need a lot of space for my things, I’d packed lightly when I moved. I let Dana know I’d be taking her up on her offer and my next obstacle would be figuring out my work situation. The 16th February seemed to be hurtling closer and closer at an alarming speed. I spoke with my Team Leader about the possibility of revoking my notice and remaining with the company in my current role.
I was so glad that I had decided to write such a gracious letter of notice. I had to meet with my Team Leader and the Head of Department since they had already started the process of finding a replacement for me. I explained in more detail what my motivations had been for handing in my notice and how at the last minute my circumstances had changed. I explained that even after such a short time I had already come to love the job and the people I work with and that I could really see myself growing in the role they’d given me.
They agreed to keep me on, happy with the work that I’d been doing to date and asked only that I was certain that I wanted to stay. I assured them that I was. My colleagues were happy that I’d changed my mind, and we quickly got to discussing an upcoming hen party for one of them who was getting married later that year. It was pretty cool to feel so included after such a short time, in the many years I’d spent in Somerset I never really felt that, although I think that was mostly my own doing.
So this was it, I was staying. I got organised and let the company I almost joined know that I’d had a change of circumstance and wouldn’t be able to take the position. I let my friends know that I was staying in London at least for the foreseeable future. Of all the friends I would have to let know I felt the most for Sophie, when we’d made friends it was because I had said I was moving back to the area and she’d just moved there, I was one of the few friends she’d made since moving and now I wouldn’t be around so much. I would make sure I’d stay in touch though.
I remember finally feeling like I was making good choices again, like I wasn’t letting anyone or any situation beat me. I was able to remind myself of what I wanted and what my motivations had been and still were. I had a chance here in London, I just had to take it.